Disappointment Becomes Joy

This is another great devotional by Billy Graham. Please take the time to browse his site. There is a lot of great information there!

They shall see his face . . . 
—Revelation 22:4 (TLB)

One of the great bonuses of being a Christian is the great hope that extends beyond the grave into the glory of God’s tomorrow. A little girl was running toward a cemetery as the darkness of evening began to fall. She passed a friend who asked her if she was not afraid to go through the graveyard at night. “Oh, no,” she said, “I’m not afraid. My home is just on the other side!” We Christians are not afraid of the night of death because our heavenly home is “just on the other side.” The resurrection of Christ changed the midnight of bereavement into a sunrise of reunion; it changed the midnight of disappointment into a sunrise of joy; it changed the midnight of fear to a sunrise of peace. Today faith and confidence in the resurrected Christ can change your fear to hope and your disappointment to joy.

Hear this 1-minute story of a man facing a bleak future when he found joy in Christ. 

Prayer for the day

Whatever I fear the most, Lord Jesus, I put into Your loving hands, knowing You will give me peace and courage.

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We are #glad

Psalm 126

A Song of Ascents.

When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter
and our tongue with joyful shouting;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.

Restore our captivity, O Lord,
as the streams in the South.
 Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.¹

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It seemed too good to be true that they were able to return to Jerusalem. It was like a dream—they couldn’t believe it. Now they want to give a testimony to the world.

The remnant of Israel that returned to their land after the Babylonian captivity does not exhaust the meaning of this psalm. It also looks forward to their national restoration when their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, returns.

Let me quote Dr. Gaebelein’s comment at the conclusion of this Psalm. “Beautiful is the ending of this Psalm of prophecy. We must think first of all of Him who came in humility and sowed His precious seed with tears, our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Only His Father knows the many tears which He shed in His presence in secret prayer . . . And it is perfectly proper to apply this to ourselves also. So let us weep and scatter the seed! ‘Let us not be weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not’ (Gal. 6:9)” (The Book of Psalms, p. 456).²


¹ New American Standard Bible (NASB)Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

² J. Vernon McGee, Through the Bible with J. Vernon McGee (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983).

Marriage for Worse, for Poorer, and in Sickness

This is an excellent article from UnlockingTheBible.org.

Marriage for Worse, for Poorer,
and in Sickness

By Sarah Walton

I remember the moment I stood before my groom and recited my wedding vows. I certainly didn’t expect life to be perfect, but I assumed my marriage would be filled with more of “better” than “worse.”

With stars in my eyes, and blissfully unaware of what the future would hold, I confidently vowed, “I take you, Jeff, to be my lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live.”

That was almost 13 years ago.

Trials Can Test Your Marriage Vows

Little did I know those thirteen years would hold chronic illness, financial loss, special needs, suffering children, marital strain, and overwhelming stress. I never imagined that I’d experience so much of the “worse, poorer, and in sickness” part of our vows.

I’m grateful as I reflect on the unexpected trials that have tested our marriage. In God’s goodness, the “worse” parts of our marriage have ushered in a deeper, Christ-centered experience of the “better.” This hasn’t come without the pain of loss and failure; yet Christ has used it to mature us in him, change our character, and increase our love for each other.

This, of course, is only possible with and through Christ. While God can certainly change the heart of a non-believing spouse and use the pain of unbelief to draw both spouses to himself, the following truths reflect a husband and wife who’ve put their faith in Christ and desire to follow him. If you’re married to an unbelieving spouse, I pray God will use the trials to draw them to a saving faith in Christ.

Read the rest here.

Storms of Life

Storms of Life

By Patricia Knight

Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your feet from being snared.
—Proverbs 3:25-26

The sky was camouflaged by black blankets of menacing storm clouds, warning of impending turmoil over coastal waters. So defeated were the roiling, crashing ocean waves that even the raucous calls of the seabirds were subdued. The wind hushed. Shoreline trees stood at focused attention, awaiting a signal. Undeniable calm and quiet prevailed. Surely a gargantuan storm was threatening to eviscerate the tightly sutured clouds with scintillating bolts of lightning.

Then mysteriously, tiny holes of blue light peeped through the grotesque yellow-black storm clouds. The potential pandemonium lessened with every tiny slice of light. Without a crack of lightning or a drop of rain, fissures of blue sky opened among the disturbances. It took little time for the entire sky to transform. Soon puffy white clouds bounced around on a cerulean blue trampoline.

“Caw, Caw,” rejoiced avian life. Gradually all appearances and activities normalized as if no threats once loomed. The clouds rolled back as a scroll, quickly revealing the beautifully clear firmament beneath. The dark, menacing clouds would hover over the deep ocean waters again, but not today.

There are times when similar gloomy, black clouds stall over our lives, transforming our positive demeanor into negative attitudes. Fear and anxiety rule our decision-making. Frustration and anger take precedent. Like so many times when we’ve been inconvenienced by a situation beyond our control, the approaching storm paralyzes our mental reactions, convincing us of the worst possible outcome. When ineptness overwhelms us, failure often ensues, forcing us to merely hunker down until the threat has passed. We are assured, “Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your feet from being snared” (Proverbs 3:25-26).

Joseph was born in Jacob’s old age and was greatly loved and favored over his other siblings. His brothers were insanely jealous of Joseph because of Jacob’s favoritism, accentuated by their father’s gift of a richly ornamental robe. When Joseph’s dreams revealed that his brothers would eventually bow down to worship him, animosity grew more extreme.

Joseph was seventeen years old when his brothers plotted to kill him (Genesis 37:19). Instead, they stripped him of his multi-colored coat and threw him into an empty well. When Midianite traders passed by, the brothers sold Joseph as a slave. Potiphar, the captain of the guard for the Egyptian king, purchased him for palace duty for twenty shekels of silver. “From the time he {Potiphar} put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph” (Genesis 39:5).

One day Joseph was accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Into prison Joseph went for two long years, seemingly forgotten. Even while in prison, God protected His faithful servant, putting him in a position of leadership over his fellow prisoners.

Such tragedies as Joseph experienced in his young life might tend to destroy a weaker man’s faith, but Joseph’s strength grew as he learned to depend upon God for all of his needs. Jesus taught, “ ‘Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered’” (Matthew 10:30). Surely, if our Lord makes it a point to know such intimate details about His children, we are assured that He loves us, cares for us, and that He is constantly moving in our lives to accomplish His purpose. “‘Because he loves me’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in times of trouble. I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation’” (Psalms 91:14-15).

Joseph was put in charge of collecting grain supplies during the seven years of plenty when Egypt had carefully stockpiled their rich harvests. Joseph then approved the sale of grain to their starving neighbors as famine ravaged the known world during the following seven years, leading to a reunion and reconciliation with his siblings, who had planned his demise twenty years earlier. Though Joseph had suffered injustice and humiliation, he didn’t harbor bitterness toward his brothers. His faith was firmly planted in a God who guided his entire life.

“Shout for joy, O earth; burst into song, O mountain!
For the Lord comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones” (Isaiah 49:13).

Joseph forgave his brothers when he revealed his identity to them through tears of joy. “ ‘I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold to Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. But God sent me here to preserve a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance’” (Genesis 45: 4-5, 7). God’s ultimate mission for sending Joseph to a foreign country was to establish the nation of Israel in Egypt and to use the famine to reunite Joseph’s family.

Does adversity create mental chaos and meltdowns in your life?  Suffering affliction can either turn our thoughts upward toward God or inward toward self-pity. We are assured by God, “ ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’  So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”  (Hebrews 13: 5-6). Joseph’s life demonstrates God’s faithfulness.

Like Joseph, let us depend upon God, the faithful One, who has kept every promise from the beginning of time. Faith is not based on ragged emotions borne on desperation, but on trust and confidence. God loves us so unconditionally, He sent His only Son to die for our sins, granting forgiveness for our many temporary lapses in faith over a lifetime. Joseph forgave his brothers for an inhumane act that surely would have led to a slow, agonizing death until God converted the injustice to His sovereign purposes. 

The initial clamor of the atmospheric storm over the ocean initially created fear and havoc, but gradually the development of a full-fledged storm system was replaced with a tranquil sky. How many storms in our lives begin with boisterous, threatening circumstances, but as we pray and trust, God works out the details, calming our spirits.  When we give our fears to Jesus, we routinely experience blue skies of peace lingering on the horizon of our emotions. Our perspective is modified as we view life through the lens of Almighty God, who is “able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Ephesians 3:20, KJV).

Take Jesus on every excursion of life. He is the only one in whom to solidly place your trust for all of the big and little problems that assail. “He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him” (Proverbs 2:8, NLT)

When Hope Seems to Run Out

Sharing from SetApart.net.

When Hope Seems to Run Out

By Sarah Walton

God is still a God of miracles. Though it may look different than when Jesus walked the earth, we still hear of God’s divine intervention all around us – tumors that miraculously disappear, a hardened criminal surrenders their life to Christ and has a powerful ministry to the unsaved, an unborn child who’s been declared “unfit for life” is born perfectly healthy, and hard to reach cultures are coming to Christ through divine intervention.

Yes, God still reveals His power and supremacy through these miraculous acts. However, it’s likely that many of us haven’t experienced a life-altering miracle in our own lives (other than the miraculous regeneration of our hearts). Although there are times that we can clearly see evidence of God at work in our lives, there are also seasons when it seems as though prayers are being answered in everyone’s lives but ours.

Read the rest here.

Pain’s Absence vs Pain’s Potency

PainsAbsence-PainsPotency

Scripture reminds us that God’s presence does not equal
pain’s absence.
However, because of God’s presence,
pain’s potency
is limited.
Difficult times may certainly lead to dark days,
but dark days need not mean defeat.
Ask God to give you strength to call on Him,
even in the darkest moments of life.

Begin this day crying out to the Lord.
Wait expectantly for His answer and trust His presence.

—Paul Purvis, First Baptist Church Temple Terrace
Temple Terrace, FL

Holding on to Sustaining #Hope

This is an excellent post about HOPE from the True Woman blog at Revive Our Hearts, and not just because Ava Pennington and I both chose HOPE for our 2017 theme. I’ve been going through a time of multiple physical trials, so I truly appreciate what she wrote. I think it is an encouragement for all of us, no matter what we’re going through.

Holding on to Sustaining Hope

By Ava Pennington

The new year is nearly half over. And the first five months of 2017 were not at all what I expected.

But God knew. And He gave me a clue back in December.

For the past several years, I’ve enjoyed the practice of selecting “one word” for the new year. A word to apply to every area of my life. A word to help me focus on how I believed God wants me to grow and respond to my circumstances.

Joy became my word for 2016. Also a surprise word, but once again, I could see God at work. While joy might not seem to be related to release, I quickly learned ways it complemented and built on the lessons of the previous year. I learned to take joy in present moments even as I released the illusion of control.

I became aware of my one word for 2017 in early December. Like the others, it was not included on my original list of considerations. Still, hope kept coming to mind. And it confused me.

I could see reasons for the words release and joy. But would I really need to focus on hope as a daily activity? Hmmm, since I teach and write, perhaps this was an indication that the Lord would use me to encourage hope in others. To be a vehicle of hope for those struggling against despair.

Read the rest here.